THE SWALLOW'S SONG by Norms Johnston


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It's fast-and-loose 1920 in staid Ocean Grove, N.J., but the intrinsic social conflict quickly devolves into a standard contest between dazzling glamor and dull responsibility, between glitter and true gold, with the winner a foregone conclusion and everyone talking their hearts out. To Allison Standish, condemned to spend the summer of her sixteenth birthday with her lace-curtain family and senile grandmother, the Farradays--sparkling Lisa, debonair Dirk, their svelte, tangodancing parents--are infinitely appealing; and when Lisa's magic touch (""just take off that blouse and wear your jumper. . . without it"") transforms Allison into ""a stranger from a fairy tale,"" she plays the Cinderella bit to the hilt. But how to handle ""her equivocal physical responses toward Dirk""? And could her car-crazy brother Jerry, who's obviously drinking illegally with Dirk, be taking dope with him too? Comes the crunch, the two are caught with both contraband goods and Dirk, who has lots to lose (including his grandfather's money), puts the blame on Jerry--but the Farraday mystique has long since crumbled, what with Mr. F's drunkenness and Mrs. F's dalliances. ""But at least I've learned not to be afraid to feel,"" Allison shouts at her parents in good, unrepressed Seventies fashion. Everyone, though, gets into the encounter-group game--as absurd in a 1920 setting as it is tacky in 1978.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1978
Publisher: Atheneum